Friday, June 14, 2013

Trial courts can extend probation when basis rational

Franklin County’s 10th. District Court of Appeals earlier this week ruled that a trial court has the discretion to extend a probation period when there is a rational basis to do so. The case instance here was a decision to extend the probationary period of a convicted sex offender until after he had successfully completed a sexual offender treatment program. [ State v. Weston, 12AP-607 on  6/11/2013, cited as 2013-Ohio-2426 ]

The defendant entered a guilty plea in trial to an amended count of criminal mischief. During his hearing, the trial court accepted the plea and informed him that he would be placed on probation for a period of one year with notice that that period might be extended.

The county’s probation department subsequently filed a "statement of fact” near the end of that year recommending that his probation be extended in order for him to complete a sexual offender treatment program, with the trial court conducting a hearing during which appellant indicated he would not agree to sign a form extending his probation. Trial court continued and extended appellant's probation, issuing an entry to that effect and stating in part: "Can terminate as soon as counseling is completed." On appeal, appellant ‘s single assignment of error was that the trial court erred in extending the term of his community control, in that there was no evidence he violated any of the conditions of his probation and that the record lacks sufficient justification for the court's action.

The appeals court in pertinence said, “… a trial court… need not find a violation in order to extend probation if there exists a rational basis and such extension is within the limits as prescribed by R.C. 2951.07. See State v. Puhl, 6th Dist.No. WD-96-059 (May 2, 1997) (while there was no evidence appellant willfully violated condition of probation requiring him to successfully complete any recommendations for treatment in sexual offender's program, trial court had rational basis for ordering 18-month extension of probation so appellant could continue needed therapy)…. At the time appellant entered his guilty plea, the conditions of probation included a requirement that he ‘[c]omplete any recommended counseling or treatment as determined by probation officer or assessment.’”

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